Friday, May 21, 2010

I love bread!

I know that it can be bad for you - or healthy, depending on how it's made. That's one reason I have been trying to make it for our family. I like knowing exactly what is in our bread (and that there are no preservatives). I love smelling the bread as it cooks. I have a hard time waiting for it to cool, but I love smelling it while it does.

I was having a lot of success with the artisan bread. Unfortunately, it's not the best for sandwiches. It can be small, and the hard crust can make it hard to eat. This week, I tried some new recipes for softer, sandwich-style bread. I thought that both recipes I tried turned out well, but I absolutely loved the buttermilk bread. The recipes did not use any whole wheat flour, so now I am going to try to add some whole wheat to the recipes. If anyone has any advice on what else to adjust to compensate for the whole wheat, I would greatly appreciate it.

I would have pictures of my beautiful bread, but my house is a wreck (especially this week with the sick kids). Hopefully the wheat experiments will go well and I will have pictures to share then. Of course, smelling it and tasting it is the best. If you are in the area you should stop by for some! A courtesy call first would be appreciated, though.

Monday, May 10, 2010

How the time flies!

I should have posted more frequently than this, but last week I had a visitor at my house and we had too much fun playing together! I also got to introduce her to some fun foods (like chicken sausage) and places to shop (like Sprout's). I have been meaning to discuss recipes and cookbooks for a while, so I guess now is as good a time as any.

The books I have been pulling recipes from most recently are the Sneaky Chef books by Missy Chase Lapine. (I have the first two books that are linked to in that sentence. All of the books she has written can be seen my clicking on her name. The concept is similar to Deceptively Delicious, but these books explain the science behind the recipes and use some different purees.) My family has enjoyed them all, except for the mac & cheese and the boys prefer the blue box for that. My purpose in using these recipes is to get more variety of vegetables in our diets, more vegetables at all in MY diet, and to lower the glycemic index of sweets and desserts. I will give a little more info on some of the recipes that we have tried.

I made some of the granola bars for the post-game snacks for Evan's last football game and they were rejected by some of the kids outright. I think I needed to bake them longer, because they weren't all that crispy and were falling apart pretty easily. We all liked them, though. They would even make a fun breakfast.

Steve made some chocolate cupcakes from the book for me for Mother's Day and I really enjoyed them! The icing looked a little "different", but tasted fine. This recipe uses a purple puree which consists of spinach and blueberries. When I made the puree the last time, I had too many blueberries for the amount of spinach. You can taste a bit of the blueberries in the desserts that we have made with this batch of puree. Since they have been chocolate desserts, it hasn't bothered me too much. I actually like the bit of blueberry flavor. So, the cupcakes with frosting were fine, but they were also good without frosting. The cupcakes were a little more fudgy (like brownies) and we ate them with fresh strawberries. Yummy!

Another cookbook that I have been using lately is called Cook This, Not That, by the same people who wrote the Eat This, Not That series of books. It gives you healthier versions of restaurant dishes. It also has a wonderful 2-page spread at the front of each section that either gives you quick and healthy ideas for lunch, appetizers, etc. or gives you a reference matrix (like for smoothies and salad dressings). I pretty much don't buy salad dressing, since I can experiment and make up my own now.

I have made the spinach-artichoke dip and it is pretty good! It has much less cream cheese and mayo than normal, but is still tasty.

Steve's favorite from this book is the chicken tenders. They are so healthy and my boys love them, too. Steve likes them so much that I have had to issue a moratorium on making them for a little while. ;-)

I have also been making our bread again, thanks to Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. I even tried to make hamburger and hot dog buns on Saturday. The recipe I am using makes crusty bread, so the buns weren't quite as good, unless you ate it "open-faced" like I did. I am going to try a new recipe later this week. There is no recipe for buns in this book, so I get to experiment a little. Thankfully, Steve is patient with me as I experiment with our food. ;-)

I am going to try to go to a farmer's market this week, too. I really need to go by myself and the one closest to us is only open on Saturdays. I have heard about another one that is open during the week and should still be fairly close, so I am going to give it a try this week.

I did a lot of shopping with my sis-in-law, so I feel like I got a lot of walking in last week! I am going to try to be more intentional and regular with my exercise this week, though. I will also try to write before the end of the week to you know how it goes. I am sure you will be waiting on pins and needles to find out. ;-)